Friday, September 8, 2017

Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair, N63TV, Stalactite LLC: Fatal accident occurred August 15, 2015 near Essex County Airport (KCDW), Caldwell, New Jersey

John Hannon



The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Saddlebrook, New Jersey
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Hartzell Engine Technologies; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N63TV

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA312
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 15, 2015 in West Caldwell, NJ
Aircraft: CESSNA T206H, registration: N63TV
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 15, 2015, at 1002 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T206H, N63TV, impacted trees and terrain after a loss of engine power during initial climb at Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, New Jersey. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Stalactite, LLC, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the positioning flight, destined for Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey.

According to a friend of the pilot, the pilot planned to fly to TEB, pick up the owner of the airplane and fly with him to South Hampton, where the owner had a residence. The friend owned a Cessna 182 and was interested in purchasing a Cessna 206 like the one the pilot was flying, so the pilot invited him to come to CDW before the flight and see the airplane.

The friend arrived at the airport about 0930 and noticed that the pilot had already completed the preflight inspection of the airplane. The pilot appeared to be "fine, his usual self, and doing good that morning," The pilot's friend was in the fixed base operator's (FBO) lobby when he heard the airplane's engine start. The airplane stayed on the ramp for a few minutes and then taxied out. About 10 minutes later, the pilot's friend saw the airplane as it passed by a window in the FBO. The airplane seemed quieter than it should have to him, and he thought that it did not seem to be moving very fast. About 10 minutes later, a line service agent entered the FBO and said that there had been an airplane accident.

According to information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted the CDW air traffic control tower, requested to taxi, and advised the controller that he had the current weather that was being transmitted by CDW's automatic terminal information service. The controller subsequently instructed the pilot to taxi to runway 22 and to hold short of the runway at intersection "November," which was normally used for airplanes departing on runway 22. The airplane taxied to the designated location and remained there for about 5 minutes. According to FAA inspectors, during the time that the airplane remained stationary, a student pilot heard the airplane's engine go from near idle to full power about five times and reported that the engine did not "sound right."

The air traffic controller cleared the pilot for takeoff with a left turnout. Shortly after becoming airborne, the pilot advised that he had a "problem," declared an emergency, and requested to "return to the field immediately." The controller cleared the pilot to land on any runway, and the pilot reported that he was unable to maintain engine power. There were no other communications from the pilot.

Review of security camera video revealed that, during the takeoff, the airplane appeared to accelerate slowly and rotated about 1,800 ft. after the pilot initiated the takeoff roll." Once airborne, the airplane began to pitch slightly up and down while remaining in ground effect and then slowly climbed. The airplane momentarily reached an altitude that was just above the trees that surrounded the airport, then began to lose altitude, and turned left about 90°. The airplane disappeared from view of the camera, and a smoke cloud then rose from behind a tree line.

According to witnesses who saw the airplane just before impact, the airplane was at the same height as the trees and appeared to be gliding toward the ground. One witness stated that the airplane appeared to be "in slow motion;" it then banked sharply to the left and pitched steeply down. Another witness reported that the airplane made "a hard-left turn, went into a nose dive, and exploded when it hit the ground." Three additional witnesses reported similar observations. The witnesses heard no noise coming from the airplane before the impact.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to FAA and pilot records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane, a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine, and a ground instructor certificate with an advanced ground instructor rating. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on March 30, 2015. He had accrued about 1,941 total hours of flight experience, 16 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a 6-place, single-engine, high-wing monoplane of conventional metal construction. It was equipped with fixed-tricycle-type landing gear and was powered by a turbocharged, 310-horsepower, Lycoming TIO-540-AJ1A engine, driving a three-blade, McCauley, controllable pitch propeller.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 2009. Its most recent annual inspection was completed on April 17, 2015. At the time of the inspection, the airplane and engine had accrued 1,155.4 total hours of operation.

According to the maintenance provider who had maintained the airplane since December 2011, anything that bothered the owner about the airplane would get fixed. Most of the items that were addressed by the maintenance provider were cosmetic or routine maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, gauges, starter replacement, lights, accessories, battery replacement, and compliance with airworthiness directives and service bulletins. The maintenance provider reported that the owner's landings could be a little rough, so they had also replaced some tires as he had experienced a few flat tires, and, as a result, the owner would keep a spare set in the airplane in case he blew a tire on landing.

Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's engine had been receiving regular oil changes since new as well as spectrometric oil analysis. Review of oil analysis reports provided by the maintenance repair organization indicated that a sample of the engine's oil that was taken on March 5, 2012, contained elevated levels of iron, nickel and chromium. Another sample taken on December 19, 2013, contained elevated levels of aluminum, chromium, iron, and nickel. In a report dated March 9, 2015, the laboratory commented about an oil sample that had been taken on March 4, 2015, stating that:

"These numbers are a lot easier to take than the high aluminum, chrome, iron, and nickel we saw last time. The shorter oil run obviously helped, but most of the metals are lower on a ppm/hour basis too, meaning that the engine really did wear better. If anything, nickel could still stand to be lower. 13 ppm is almost high enough to get a mark, so that's one we'll be monitoring next time. There's a trace of fuel to report this time, but that's not anything to worry about. It's likely just from normal use. Much better at 1,151.6 hours S[ince ]New."

In a report dated August 12, 2015, for an oil sample that was taken on August 4, 2015 (11 days before the accident), the laboratory commented that:

"Steady as she goes for this sample out of N63TV. If we're being picky you could say that iron should have come down as a result of the shorter oil run, but 39 ppm isn't bad at all for one of these engines after 20 hours on the oil. Everything else is in good shape, so we'd be surprised if the extra iron on a per-hour basis turned out to be an issue. No problems with the oil itself were found, making for a very nice report overall."

Maintenance records indicated that two repairs requiring replacement of major components of the engine had been accomplished. The first repair followed a report from the owner that the engine was experiencing high oil consumption. According to a maintenance entry dated January 21, 2013, and the associated work order, this resulted in the maintenance provider inspecting for the cause of the oil leaks by first washing down the engine, and then after a test flight, tightening loose rocker box return line coupling clamps, replacing a cracked air/oil separator, replacing leaking oil dipstick gaskets, and replacing a leaking fitting on the turbocharger wastegate actuator. During this inspection and maintenance action, maintenance personnel noticed oil on the inlet scroll of the turbocharger and oil on the belly of the airplane, so they replaced the turbocharger "due to oil leaking past shaft seal intake system."

The second repair occurred about 4 months later, when the owner again reported high oil consumption. According to a maintenance entry dated May 22, 2013, and the associated work order, this resulted in the maintenance provider checking the compressions and borescoping the cylinders.

During this inspection and maintenance action, maintenance personnel found pooled oil in the Nos.3, 5, and 6 cylinders. Per guidance from a Lycoming representative, they attached an airspeed indicator to a modified oil dipstick cap and then ran the engine. No excessive crankcase pressure was found. Next, they ran the engine to get the temperature up and shut down the engine at 1,300 rpm. Then they borescoped the cylinders again and found that all of the pistons were damp, all of the spark plugs were dry, and there was pooled oil in the Nos. 3, 5, and 6 cylinders. After these tests, maintenance personnel removed the Nos. 3, 5, and 6 cylinders and found the oil control rings stuck in the pistons. They installed new Nos. 3, 5, and 6, cylinder assemblies.

The maintenance records did not indicate that the check valve on the turbocharger oil supply line was cleaned or replaced following either of these engine repairs.

Turbocharger System Information

The airplane was equipped with a turbocharging system manufactured by Hartzell Engine Technologies (HET) that forced air into the engine's combustion chamber, allowing the engine to maintain sea-level manifold pressure as altitude increased. The turbocharging system consisted of a turbocharger, controller, wastegate, and pressure relief valve.

The turbocharger converted wasted energy, in the form of hot exhaust gases from the engine exhaust, into increased manifold pressure to increase power available from the engine. After air and fuel were burned in the cylinders, the exhaust gases from combustion were used to spin a turbine wheel at high speeds. The turbine wheel was connected to a compressor wheel that compressed induction air supplied through an opening in the lower cowl, that was ducted through a filter and into the compressor, increasing its density. The pressurized induction air would then pass through the throttle body and induction manifold into the engine cylinders, completing the cycle.

The controller sensed manifold pressure to maintain sea level horsepower at altitude, without over-speeding the turbocharger or over-boosting the aircraft's engine. It did this by controlling pressurized engine oil to hydraulically actuate the wastegate. The wastegate (exhaust bypass valve), used speed or compressor discharge pressure (boost) during certain conditions of a flight. Managed through the controller, the wastegate opened to allow exhaust gas to bypass the turbocharger, limiting speed and boost.

The pressure relief valve acted as a supplementary safety device in the airplane turbocharger system. The valve was set to open at a pressure slightly above the maximum turbocharger discharge pressure, should the controller or wastegate not adequately limit the boost pressure.

According to HET, the turbocharger operates at speeds over 100,000 rpm and at temperatures exceeding 1,650ºF, and oil is required at the correct flow rate and pressure to lubricate the bearings, stabilize the rotating shaft and bearings, and act as a coolant. The system's lubricating oil comes directly from the engine's oil system, so shutting down the engine immediately stops the flow of oil to the turbocharger. If the turbocharger is still turning at a high rate of speed when oil flow is cut off, the turbocharger bearings can be damaged. In addition, any stagnant oil remaining around the extremely hot turbine shaft will overheat and "coke" or burn.

The controller and the wastegate also use engine oil and pressure for operation and control of the turbocharger. If either one is contaminated by oil, does not receive the correct oil flow rate, or lacks sufficient oil pressure to function, system performance is compromised. In the event of malfunction of a turbocharged engine, HETs experience is that maintenance personnel assume that the turbocharger is at fault and replace it. Frequently the replacement unit fails, which prompts an investigation into the real cause of the initial failure. According to HET, the major cause of turbocharger failures is faulty lubrication systems.

The accident airplane was equipped with a check valve on the turbocharger oil supply line, which was located upstream from the turbocharger and regulated the supply of oil that it received. HET does not require the use of check valves, and the check valve installed on the airplane was supplied by the engine manufacturer. The check valve was used to prevent oil from draining into the turbocharger after shutdown and pooling in the turbocharger body. According to HET, this pooling can result in stagnant oil remaining around the extremally hot turbine shaft and coking or burning. Along with coking, bearing damage can occur that causes the bearings to orbit instead of spin, which can lead to turbine and/or compressor rub, wear, and failure.

If a check valve sticks in an open or partially open position, this allows the turbocharger's center body to fill with oil; the oil then leaks past the seals because the oil cannot drain and is not being scavenged. The absence of turbo air pressure (both in the compressor and turbine housings) also does not assist in preventing oil leakage past the piston rings, which can result in the presence of oil in the compressor/induction system (evidence of oil in the combustion chambers) and/or the turbine/exhaust system (resulting in smoking during engine start).

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The recorded weather at CDW, at 1012, about 10 minutes after the accident, included: variable winds at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 28°C, dew point -17°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

CDW was owned by the Essex County Improvement Authority and was located 2 miles north of Caldwell, New Jersey. It was classified by the FAA as a publicly owned, tower controlled, public use airport.

The airport elevation was 172 ft above mean sea level and was oriented in a 10/28 and 4/22 runway configuration. Runway 22 was asphalt, in good condition, and measured 4,552 ft long by 80 ft wide with a 0.2% gradient. The threshold was displaced 134 ft. The runway was equipped with high intensity runway edge lights and runway end identifier lights and was marked with nonprecision markings in good condition.




WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in a wooded area about 0.3 nautical mile from the departure end of runway 22 on a magnetic heading of 156°. Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain on a 20° magnetic heading after striking several trees. Further examination revealed that the airplane impacted in a nose-down, inverted attitude. During the impact sequence, the engine separated from its mounting location. The empennage was displaced about 20° to the left of the fuselage centerline and was partially separated from the aft fuselage. The wings were separated from their mounting locations. The fuselage came to rest upright on a 100° magnetic heading against the base of a tree. The majority of the fuselage was consumed by a postimpact fire.

The wing flaps were found in the up position. The elevator trim was near neutral. The fuel selector valve was in the "BOTH" position, and there was no evidence of fuel blockage. Control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the flight controls in the cockpit. There was no evidence of any inflight structural failure.

Examination of the propeller revealed that one of the three blades separated during the impact sequence and came to rest about 30 ft from the rest of the propeller assembly. The propeller blades did not display evidence of propeller rotation during the impact sequence.

Examination of the engine revealed that the rear of the engine had been heavily damaged by the postcrash fire, and the magnesium oil sump was destroyed by fire.

The engine's fuel system was heavily damaged by the postcrash fire. The engine-driven fuel pump was destroyed by the postcrash fire. The fuel servo inlet fuel screen was free of contaminants, and the diaphragm displayed thermal damage. The fuel flow divider was thermally damaged.

The left magneto's internal windings were found in the molten metal beneath the engine. The right magneto was found loosely attached to the rear accessory housing and was thermally damaged.

Attempts to rotate the engine drive train by hand were unsuccessful. There was no evidence of any type of blockage in the intake or exhaust systems. The spark plug electrodes displayed evidence of black sooty deposits indicative of carbon fouling. A portion of the No. 3 piston's skirt was missing; metal fragments were present in the crankcase, and metal was found extruded from the edges of the No. 3 main engine bearing.

The turbocharger system was partially destroyed by the postimpact fire; a majority of the damage was to the compressor housing and compressor wheel. The turbine housing exhaust port did not display evidence of turbine wheel rotation during the impact sequence. The turbocharger was secured to its mount with the exhaust pipes separated from the exhaust bypass valve on both ends. The slope controller and the pressure relief valve were destroyed by the post impact fire, and the exhaust bypass valve was partially destroyed but remained attached to the turbocharger.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the State Medical Examiner, State of New Jersey, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The listed cause of death was blunt impact injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing of the pilot. The specimens were negative for carbon monoxide.

Carvedilol, which is used to treat high blood pressure, was detected in urine and blood, and
quinapril, which is used to treat hypertension, was detected in urine. Use of these two non-impairing drugs was previously reported by the pilot to the FAA. Salicylate (aspirin) was detected in urine.

Review of FAA medical certificates and supporting documentation indicated that the pilot had a history of high blood pressure and a myocardial infarction with stent placement in 2007. Based on clinical reports, his conditions were stable, and no significant conditions were identified during his FAA physical examinations.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

At the request of the NTSB, Lycoming analyzed the metal fragments found in the engine crankcase and the metal extruded from the No. 3 main bearing. Lycoming determined that the metal fragments found in the engine crankcase were cast aluminum material. Chips recovered from the sludge in the crankcase were also made of the same material. The material was not from the No.3 piston and was most likely from the crankcase or other housing. The metal that was bulged or extruded out from the edges of the No. 3 main bearing (both halves) was made primarily of lead, with some tin and copper, indicating that it came from the bearing overlay material. It also indicated that the bearings experienced some localized melting and flow of the overlay material from the postcrash fire.

The turbocharger and wastegate were examined at Lycoming Engines by HET under the supervision of the NTSB. Examination of the turbocharger revealed that the compressor housing and mounting surfaces had been consumed by fire. The compressor wheel had been heavily damaged by fire. The compressor wheel nut was tight, and the compressor oil film journal bearing's radial holes were clear.

The compressor thrust collar radial holes were clear; there was no evidence of scratches, scoring, or galling of the end surfaces and no evidence of rubbing on the compressor backplate seal bore. There was no scoring or worn face areas on the compressor inboard thrust bearing.

The compressor back plate was corroded from heat and water exposure. No damage was observed to the attachment surfaces, and the seal bore inside diameter spacer was not damaged or scored. The compressor back plate oil squirt holes were also clear.

The turbocharger's turbine wheel could not be turned by hand. The turbine oil film journal bearing's radial holes were clear. No evidence of turbine wheel rub was present, and clearance existed between the turbine wheel blades and the turbine housing. The turbine wheel did not display evidence of foreign object damage or bent blades.

Examination of the center bearing housing revealed that there was no evidence of residual oil, and extreme corrosion was present. The oil squirt holes were clear, and no evidence of the outlet port being restricted by coking was discovered. The outlet and inlet gaskets were heat damaged.

The anti-rotation pins were of the split type, and they were secure and properly oriented.

The wastegate valve was free and could move through its full range of motion. The wastegate actuator body had been completely consumed by the postcrash fire; only the valve housing assembly, actuator shaft assembly, springs and retainer remained

At the request of the NTSB, Lycoming radiographically inspected the oil supply line check valve, which was located upstream from the turbocharger and regulated the supply of oil that it received. Review of the low-resolution x-ray images by Lycoming personnel indicated that the internal components appeared to be in sound condition, there was no obvious foreign object damage, and the ball was resting on the seat. The x-ray film also showed that the internal spring was slightly cocked about 5°.

The check valve assembly was then tested by installing it in a flow testing fixture, and the oil pressure was monitored while observing the check valve for flow. The engineering drawing specified the performance as follows: "No leakage allowed below 8 [pounds per square inch] psi; and check valve must open at 13 psi ±2 psi oil pressure". Leakage was observed from the check valve exit hole before 1 psi of pressure was reached. The oil stream flowing from the check valve steadily increased, and the vertical level of the stream rose higher until about 5 to 6 psi pressure was reached. At that point, the stream was nearly a straight jet of oil.

The turbocharger and oil supply line check valve were submitted to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination. Examination of the turbocharger components revealed that they exhibited surface oxidation (rusting) and evidence of coking with soot residue. These conditions were consistent with exposure to fire, as well as exposure to water. The center bearing housing of the turbocharger had rusted to a degree that the iron oxide was starting to spall. No other visible damage, such as distortion, wear, or cracking, was present on the component exterior. The center housing was radiographed and inspected using computed tomography (CT) scanning. There were no discernable features noted on the center housing using these techniques.

The center housing was sectioned using a band saw with a water-based emulsion-coolant. The location of the sectioning was along the position of the turbine wheel. The housing bearing on the turbine side exhibited longitudinal score marks that were consistent with removal of the shaft, which had partially fused to the bearing. It also displayed circumferential wear, with relatively less rust and other surface contamination compared to the bearing on the compressor side. Gouging was also present on the interior surface of the turbine side bearing. There was no evidence of damage to, or blockage of, the oil holes.

The center housing bearing on the compressor side exhibited primarily circumferential wear. The longitudinal marks on the bearing were consistent with machine marks or sliding. There was internal surface rusting on this bearing. There was no evidence of blockage or damage to the oil holes or channels in this section of the housing. No other indications of internal mechanical malfunctions were found inside the center housing.

The turbine wheel blade fins did not exhibit any mechanical damage consistent with foreign object impacts, overheating, or distortion. There was no chipping or cracking observed.

The tapered stub shaft of the compressor side had fractured away from the threaded portions of the shaft during removal for examination. The features on the fracture surface had been entirely obliterated by smearing, consistent with post-fracture damage, and the area adjacent to fracture exhibited a jog on one side, with a general flat surface. This pattern was consistent with overstress failure in shear of a ductile material.

Gouge marks were present on the hexagonal cap on the turbine side of the wheel and most probably occurred during removal. Theses marks were consistent with an impact with an adjacent component or tool, in a clockwise rotation. The turbine side bearing surface of the turbine wheel also exhibited longitudinal gouging marks, in addition to the circumferential wear marks. These gouge marks matched those of the bearing surface of the sectioned center housing. These marks were consistent with the wheel assembly shifting forward while positioned in the housing.

The turbocharger oil supply line check valve and an exemplar check valve were inspected by radiography and CT scanning. The accident check valve exhibited a small gap between the ball and the internal channel along the neck. The spring that held the ball was angled. Neither the ball nor the spring in the exemplar check valve exhibited the features noted in the accident valve.

Sectioning of the accident check valve revealed the presence of contamination in the internal channel on the upstream (inlet) side of the check valve and the presence of foreign material between the ball and the internal channel along the neck. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed that the spectra of the foreign material was similar to lubricating oil.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Lycoming Maintenance Guidance

A review of Lycoming's maintenance guidance revealed that the direct drive engine overhaul manual did not explicitly address the turbocharger system, nor was there guidance for checking or replacing the check valve, flushing of any reused oil lines, or flushing of other components such as the turbocharger, controller, wastegate, or air-oil separator. Further review also revealed that for maintenance personnel to maintain, repair, or replace the turbocharging system on the TIO-540-AJ1A model engine, a mechanic would have to rely on multiple documents including the Illustrated Parts Manual for the parts needed, the Service Table of Limits for applicable torques, and Service Bulletins, Service Letters, and Service Instructions applicable to that model or individual component for replacement.

Pilot Operating Handbook

Review of the Cessna T206H Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) short field takeoff performance charts revealed that when configured to a 20-degree flap setting, and assuming a 30° C temperature at sea level, the airplane's expected ground roll would be between 670 and 1015 feet, at a gross weight of 3,000 and 3,600 pounds respectively. The short field landing distance performance chart shoed that under similar conditions, and a gross weight of 3,600 pounds, the airplane's expected ground roll was 775 feet.

Further review of the POH also revealed that it did not list emergency procedures for turbocharger failures, under "ENGINE FAILURES," in Section 3 (Emergency Procedures). Under "ENGINE FAILURE DURING FLIGHT (Restart Procedures), in the POH, it also called for advancing the mixture control to the rich position if restart does not occur.

Cessna's "Pilot Safety and Warning Supplements," which was reissued in 1998 to incorporate turbocharger failures, stated, in part: "A failure of the turbocharger system will cause either an overboost condition or some degree of power loss. An overboost can be determined on the manifold pressure instrument and can be controlled by a throttle reduction. If turbocharger failure results in power loss, it may be further complicated by an overly rich mixture. This rich mixture condition may be so severe as to cause a total power failure. Leaning the mixture may restore partial power. Partial or total power loss could also be caused by an exhaust leak. A landing should be made a soon as practical for either an overboost or partial/total power loss."

Continental TSIO-520-C Engine

Some earlier models of the Cessna 206 were equipped with a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C engine, which was rated at 300 horsepower. Both the Continental TSIO-520-C and the Lycoming TSIO-540-AJ1A engines use turbochargers manufactured by HET. Review of system information for the Continental TSIO-520-C revealed that it also used a spring-loaded check valve to control oil flow through the turbocharging system and prevent oil flow from the engine oil cooler to the turbocharger when the engine was shut down.

Published guidance was issued by Continental Motors in a service bulletin (Service Bulletin SB16-3), which advised that if the check valve did not close properly or became blocked with foreign matter, the check valve may remain open, allowing oil to continuously flow to the turbocharger (after the engine is shut down and the oil scavenge pump is no longer actively returning oil to the engine oil sump).

The service bulletin also advised that characteristic symptoms associated with a blocked check valve are turbocharger oil leakage and oil leakage through the tailpipe or induction system.

It also included the following statement: "NOTE: Do not assume an oil leak from the turbocharger is simply an incorrectly operating check valve – thoroughly troubleshoot for causes of all turbocharger oil leaks."

The service bulletin also required that the check valve be checked:

- At each 50-hour inspection.
- Whenever a turbocharger oil leak was detected.
- Immediately following an engine test run after cylinder(s) replacement.
- After replacing lubrication system components.

NTSB Recommendation A-94-81

On April 11, 1994, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-94-81 as a result of its investigation of a January 13, 1992, accident (NTSB Case No. LAX92FA092) involving a Cessna T210L, N22592, that occurred at the Temple Bar Airport, Temple Bar, Arizona, as the pilot attempted to execute an emergency landing. Two of the five persons aboard were killed, and three were seriously injured when the airplane struck the ground short of the runway. The pilot reported that the airplane had sustained a partial loss of engine power during cruise, but that he could not determine the nature of the problem. While descending to the airport, he turned the fuel boost pump on, and the engine lost additional power. Just before arriving over the airport, the cockpit and cabin areas filled with smoke, and the pilot secured the engine.

The NTSB determined that the probable causes of this accident were fatigue failure of the turbocharger's turbine shaft due to inadequate maintenance and the pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision after experiencing a turbocharger failure. Additionally, the lack of written instructions or an emergency procedure in the Cessna T210L Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) relating to turbocharger malfunctions or failures contributed to the accident.

The NTSB's safety recommendation letter stated, in part:

From January 1, 1988, to May 4, 1993, there were 88 accidents and incidents involving aircraft engine turbochargers, resulting in 6 fatalities and 35 injuries. Many of these occurrences, in both single and twin-engine airplanes, involved loss of engine power, fire in flight, or smoke in the cockpit. Moreover, from January 1, 1986, to May 4, 1993, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received 580 Service Difficulty Reports (SDRs) regarding aircraft turbocharging systems. The reports contained detailed system malfunctions that, in many cases, were attributed to inadequate installation, inspection, maintenance, service, or overhaul. The Safety Board noted, in connection with a significant number of the accidents, that improper pilot remedial actions following the turbocharger malfunction or failure may have contributed to these occurrences. For example, because compressed air to the engine normally produced by the turbocharger was no longer available, use of the boost pump, as evidenced in the accident with N22592, aggravated an already overly rich fuel mixture condition. This resulted in a further reduction in engine power and subsequent inability to sustain flight. Other inappropriate pilot actions or responses cited in accident reports that may also have exacerbated the loss of engine power or caused an in-flight fire because of turbocharger failure include the following: use of an inadequate emergency procedure, improper adjustment of the fuel mixture, improper use of the throttle control, and operating with known deficiencies in equipment."

Safety Recommendation A-94-81 asked the FAA to "require the amendment of pilot operating handbooks and airplane flight manuals applicable to aircraft equipped with engine turbochargers by including in the "Emergency Procedures" section information regarding turbocharger failure. The information should include procedures to minimize potential hazards relating to fire in flight and/or loss of engine power."

In a July 3, 1995, response, the FAA stated that it agreed with the intent of Safety Recommendation A-94-81 but did not believe that there was sufficient basis to issue an airworthiness directive applicable to all aircraft flight manuals (AFMs) or POHs with turbocharger installations. The FAA indicated, however, that it would take the following actions: 1) revise the AFM policy regarding minimum safe operating procedures following turbocharger failures during the next revision of Advisory Circular (AC) 23-8A "Flight Test Guide for Certification of Part 23 Airplanes;" 2) provide copies of Safety Recommendation A-94-81 to all aircraft certification offices and direct each office to provide the recommendation to each holder of a type certificate or supplemental type certificate having a turbocharged engine installation; 3) request type certificate or supplemental type certificate holders to revise their AFMs, POHs, or AFM supplements, as appropriate, to comply with Safety Recommendation A-94-81; and 4) provide the Safety Board a copy of the revised General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Specification No. 1, "Specification for Pilots Operating Handbook," to address safe operating procedures following turbocharger failures.

Until the next revision to AC 23-8A was accomplished, the FAA issued a policy letter dated February 16, 1995, which added turbocharger failure procedures to the established list of systems that should be considered when evaluating the emergency procedures section of the AFM. In an August 15, 1997, response, the NTSB classified Safety Recommendation A-94-81 "Closed—Acceptable Alternate Action" based on the FAA's issuance of the policy letter, as well as the FAA's agreement to revise AC 23-8A.

NTSB Recommendation A-08-21

On May 13, 2008, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-08-21 as a result of its investigation of a May 28, 2004, accident (NTSB Case No. CHI04GA130) involving a Cessna T206H, N9548D, that impacted terrain following a loss of engine power during cruise flight near Homer Glen, Illinois. The pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. Witnesses reported that they heard several attempted engine restarts as the airplane descended, and a witness reported that black smoke emanated from the airplane during each start attempt. The black smoke was indicative of a mixture that was too rich. Postcrash examination revealed that the turbocharger had seized. The oil supply line check valve was tested, and it would not hold 8 psi of oil pressure. Oil and debris were seen being expelled from the check valve assembly when it was placed under oil pressure. Examination of the airplane's POH revealed that the in-flight emergency procedures lacked information to assess the difference between an engine and a turbocharger failure and did not provide any clear guidance or instructions on how to handle a turbocharger failure once a pilot identified the problem.

The NTSB determined that the probable causes of this accident were:

The seized turbocharger, the altitude/clearance not maintained/obtained during approach to a forced landing on an agricultural field, and the unsuitable landing area encountered by the pilot. Contributing factors were the inadequate emergency procedures by the manufacturer, the trees, and the residential area.

The NTSB's safety recommendation letter stated, in part:

The Safety Board notes, however, that the intent of Safety Recommendation A-94-81 has still not been fully realized. In connection with its investigation of the May 28, 2004, accident in Homer Glen, Illinois, the Safety Board also reviewed a representative sampling of POHs for other airplane makes and models and determined that procedures addressing turbocharger failures have either not been incorporated in the emergency procedures section or, if included, are incomplete, potentially leading to an incorrect identification and response to a turbocharger failure that could result in a total loss of engine power. A query of the Safety Board's accident database revealed that from May 1, 1993, to the present, 23 accident/incidents have occurred involving aircraft engine turbochargers, resulting in 23 fatalities and 3 injuries; 15 of these accidents/incidents have occurred (resulting in 9 fatalities) since 1997, when Safety Recommendation A-94-81 was closed.

Safety Recommendation A-08-21 asked the FAA to "require manufacturers of aircraft equipped with engine turbochargers to amend their pilot operating handbooks and airplane flight manuals to include in the "Emergency Procedures" section information regarding turbocharger failure and, specifically, procedures to minimize potential hazards relating to fire in flight and/or loss of engine power."

On June 11, 2012, the NTSB classified Safety Recommendation A-08-21 "Closed—Unacceptable Action" based on the FAA's decision not to take the recommended action. In its classification letter, the NTSB stated it "remains concerned that, without the establishment of an FAA requirement, manufacturers of aircraft equipped with turbochargers still have not voluntarily included emergency procedures for turbocharger failures, and as a result, accidents and incidents continue to occur."

North American AT-6 Texan, N3198G, registered to Wings of Flight Foundation: Fatal accident occurred May 17, 2016 near Falcon Field Airport (KFFZ), Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in Mesa, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/18/2017
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN AT 6, registration: N3198G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airline transport pilot and a passenger departed on a local flight as part of a flight of two airplanes in daytime visual meteorological conditions. Shortly after takeoff, witnesses heard the engine popping; another witness reported a possible loss of power. The airplane entered a right turn and appeared to slow. It subsequently impacted the ground and a postimpact fire ensued. Recorded communication obtained from the air traffic control tower revealed that the pilot transmitted a mayday call before the accident; however, he did not state the nature of the emergency. Postaccident examination of the airframe, flight control system, and the engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. 

The airplane was originally equipped with left- and right-wing fuel tanks, as well as a reserve tank located within the left tank. Maintenance records revealed that the fuel system was modified from its original configuration to remove the reserve tank and interconnect the left and right tanks, therefore allowing for an "On/Off" selection and eliminating the need to switch tanks in flight. The fuel system was again reconfigured; however; no entries in the maintenance records were found regarding this modification. Postaccident examination of the airplane and interviews with the operator revealed that the tank interconnect had been removed, and that the reserve port on the fuel selector valve had been plugged with a blanking cap. The fuel selector valve face displayed four quadrants, one each for the Left, Right, and Off positions, and a blank quadrant where the Reserve position had been previously. Although the Reserve position was not marked, the selector could still be moved to that position, which would result in a loss of fuel flow to the engine. During the wreckage examination, the fuel selector valve was found in a position consistent with the reserve position; however, the fuel selector valve position at the time of the accident could not be determined. 

It is possible that, if the airplane experienced a momentary loss of power, and in accordance with the practice most commonly used by T-6 pilots, the pilot would have selected what was the "reserve" position (although not marked), even though that port was plugged. This would have led to a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inability to return to the departure airport due to an unspecified in-flight emergency for reasons that could not be determined during a postaccident examination of the airplane.

Jesse Goodwin

Ataberk Besler



The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

N3198G LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N3198G 

Jesse Goodwin, airline transport pilot


Ataberk Besler, passenger



NTSB Identification: WPR16FA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in Mesa, AZ
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN AT 6, registration: N3198G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 17, 2016, about 1842 mountain standard time, a North American AT-6, N3198G, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after departure from Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona. The airline transport pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Wings of Flight Foundation and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 air tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and no flight plan was filed for the local flight, which originated from FFZ about 1840.

Company personnel reported that the accident airplane was in the trail position behind another company airplane of the same make. The purpose of the flight was to depart FFZ and conduct a tour of the area north of the airport before returning. Witnesses located at the airport saw the airplane depart runway 22L and heard the engine producing "popping" sounds then a loud "bang." One of the witnesses stated that it appeared as though the engine was either not producing any power or not producing enough power. The witnesses further reported that they saw the airplane turning to the right and slowing down. The airplane subsequently impacted the ground and a postcrash fire ensued. 

Review of recorded radio transmissions from the air traffic control tower at FFZ revealed that, about 2 minutes after the flight of two was cleared for takeoff, the accident pilot transmitted "Dash 2 Mayday." The pilot did not state the nature of the emergency. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 43, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and multi-engine land ratings. The pilot was issued a first-class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate on July 22, 2015, with no limitations. On the application for that medical certificate, the pilot reported 11,950 total hours of flight experience of which 465 hours were in the previous six months. The pilot's digital logbook, with entries from January 1, 2013, through April 24, 2016, revealed that during that period, the pilot accumulated a total of 2,744.1 flight hours. The pilot had about 50 hours of flight experience in the accident airplane make and model, including about 11 hours in the accident airplane. 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, single-engine, low-wing, retractable landing gear airplane, serial number 84-7721, was manufactured in 1942. It was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R1340-AN, 550-hp, reciprocating engine, serial number 2D700, which drove a Hamilton Standard two-bladed, controllable pitch propeller. A review of maintenance records showed that the most recent annual inspection was completed February 13, 2016, at a total aircraft time of 8,746.9 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The nearest automated weather report was from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA), located 10 miles south of the accident site. The 1859 observation included wind from 290° at 9 knots, 20 statute miles visibility, scattered clouds at 12,000 ft above ground level (agl), ceiling broken at 15,000 ft, temperature 29°C, dew point 4°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.77 inches of mercury (inHg). 

The 1851 observation at Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), located 14 miles from the accident site, included wind from 310° degrees at 26 knots gusting to 37 knots, 9 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 2,100 ft and 11,000 ft, ceiling broken at 21,000 ft and 25,000 feet, temperature 27°C, dew point 6°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.75 inHg. A peak wind of 320° at 37 knots was recorded at 1844.

The complete weather report is appended to this accident in the public docket.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

FFZ is a tower-controlled airport located at an elevation of 1,394 ft mean sea level (msl). The airport is equipped with two asphalt runways: 4R/22L, which is 5,101 ft long, and 4L/22R, which is 3,799 ft long.



WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located about 1,400 ft from the departure end of runway 22L. The airplane impacted terrain and came to rest on a road on a heading about 37° degrees magnetic. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the wreckage debris path. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading about 12° magnetic and was about 380 ft in length. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a 15-ft-tall orange tree. About 20 ft from the tree strike was a section of disturbed ground, about 12 ft in length and 1 ft in width, consistent with a wing strike. The left wing separated from the fuselage and was inverted. The left wing tank, near the inboard separation, was visible and exhibited impact signatures. The remaining debris was contained on the road, with the exception of a separated propeller blade tip. The left aileron and wing tip were separated from the wing and found on the east side of the debris field. About 100 ft to the south-west of the debris field was the separated oil cooler. The oil cooler had impact damage and was surrounded by a pool of oil.

The main wreckage was about 170 ft from the FIPC and consisted of the fuselage, empennage, right wing, and engine. The right wing remained attached to the airplane by one control cable. The right wing came to rest upright on a heading about 120°. The wing was mostly consumed by post impact fire. The fuselage came to rest on its left side on a heading about 310°. The fuselage sustained thermal damage to the lower and left side, revealing the internal structure. The instrument panels for both positions had minor damage. The pilot's seatbelt buckle was secured and thermally damaged; the passenger seat restraint was not located. The engine separated from the airframe and exhibited impact damage to the propeller assembly. The engine mounting structure exhibited impact damage. The oil sump remained attached to the firewall and was leaking oil. The empennage exhibited thermal and impact damage and came to rest on its right side. A fracture-separated propeller blade tip was located about 210 feet from the FIPC. 

The top portion of the forward crew station instrument panel was mostly intact. The bottom portion of the instrument panel, which included all switches, circuit breakers, and radios, exhibited thermal damage. The throttle, mixture, and propeller quadrant was separated with the linkages intact and disconnected from the aft seat controls, consistent with impact. The aft crew station instrument panel exhibited thermal damage and the instruments were charred and unreadable. Both canopies were found in the open position. The fuel selector handle in the forward crew station rotated freely and its position at the time of impact could not be determined. The fuel selector handle in the aft crew station was found detached from the airframe. Both fuel selectors were placarded with "Left", "Right", and "Off" positions. The fuel selector valve was found separated from the center section and subsequently disassembled. The valve was observed in a position consistent with the reserve fuel port, which was capped off with a blanking cap. Both left and right fuel line ports contained melted nylon from the fuel selector valve cone.

Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from each cockpit control to the associated flight control surface through either tension overload separations or cable cuts made during recovery.

All engine accessories remained attached to the engine via their respective mounts, except for the generator and hydraulic pump. The forward spark plugs exhibited normal operational signatures. The propeller was manually rotated and rotational continuity was established throughout the engine to the rear accessory case. Thumb compression and suction was obtained on all cylinders with the exception of the No. 6 cylinder, which exhibited impact damage. The carburetor was disassembled and examined. Both floats remained intact and undamaged. The needle valve was intact. No debris was noted on the fuel screen or in the float bowl. 

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades were found secure within the propeller hub. The counterweights were found intact and undamaged. One propeller blade exhibited "S" bending with leading edge gouging and chordwise striations on the forward side of the propeller blade. The opposing propeller blade was curled aft from about mid span, and the outboard tip was separated. The forward side of the propeller blade exhibited chordwise striations. 

The engine driven fuel pump was removed and examined. The fuel pump remained intact and the drive shaft rotated freely by hand. A hand drill was attached to the drive shaft and the fuel inlet line was submerged in water. When the hand drill was actuated, water flowed throughout the fuel pump and was observed expelling from the fuel outlet line. 

Both magnetos were removed for further examination and tested on August 8, 2016 at the facility of Precision Engines LLC., Everett, WA. Bench testing on both magnetos was successful. For further information, see Bendix Magneto Bench Test Report within the public docket for this accident.

No evidence of any preexisting mechanical malfunction was found that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine.

For further information, see the Accident Site Summary Report, and Engine and Airframe Exam Summary Report appended to this accident in the public docket.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner, Phoenix, Arizona, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was determined to be "multiple blunt force injuries."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. Specimens tested negative for carbon monoxide in blood and ethanol in urine. No presence of amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, cocaine, phencyclidine, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, antidepressants, or antihistamines was detected in urine.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

An entry in the aircraft maintenance records indicated that the airplane was completed by North American Aviation on December 15, 1942, under Type Certificate A-2-575, and shipped directly to the South African Air Force (SAAF). The airplane was originally equipped with left- and right-wing fuel tanks, as well as a reserve tank located within the left tank. The SAAF modified the fuel system as outlined in the supplemental type certificate (STC) SA00636CH (The STC is in the public docket). The modification allowed fuel in the right fuel tank to flow directly to the left fuel tank (from which the reserve fuel tank had been removed) through an interconnecting fuel pipe between the two tanks, and then from the left tank through an "ON/OFF" valve to the engine, thus making fuel tank selection during flight unnecessary. 

No maintenance records were recovered for the period between 1989 and 1995. In 1996, the airplane returned to and was registered in the United States. On April 11, 1997, the airplane was issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the experimental category. On May 3, 1997, a Standard Airworthiness Certificate was issued, which indicated that the airplane conformed to Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) A-2-575 Revision 13. However, a postaccident review of the TCDS indicated that, based on its S/N, the accident airplane was not eligible for a standard type certification. 

The airplane's fuel system was reconfigured at an unknown time and no entries in the maintenance records were found regarding the fuel system modification. The postaccident examination of the fuel system indicated that the interconnecting fuel pipe between the left and right tanks had been removed and that the reserve port on the fuel selector valve was capped. The left fuel tank reserve port stand pipe was also removed. The fuel selector valve face displayed four quadrants, one each for the Left, Right, and Off positions, and a blank quadrant where the Reserve position had previously been located. Although the Reserve position was not marked, the selector could still be moved to that position and would result in a loss of fuel flow to the engine since that port had been capped. During the wreckage examination, the fuel selector valve was found in a position consistent with the Reserve position; however, the position of the valve at the time of the accident could not be determined.

In an interview with an FAA inspector, the operator stated that the fuel selector was made of cork and that excessive manipulation of it could lead to damage or internal wear. The fuel selector was rarely moved and normally stayed on the left tank position, as most flights were short and did not necessitate the use of both fuel tanks. The selector would only be moved during flights of extended duration or if the pilot perceived a fuel-related issue. The operator indicated that the last time the airplane flew before the day of the accident was on the weekend of April 12, 2016 from FFZ to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA), Mesa, Arizona, and back, which was about 20-minute flight each way. The airplane was topped off at IWA. The operator stated that the accident flight was the second flight of the day; the first flight lasted about 30 minutes or less. The FAA inspector estimated that the airplane would have flown about 50 minutes to an hour since it was refueled on the left fuel tank. When the FAA inspector queried the operator regarding their leaning procedures, they stated that on most of their flights, which were 20-30 minutes in length around the area, they would lean very little if at all. However, they would lean on the rare longer cross-country flights or if it was at a high-altitude airport.

The FAA inspector also interviewed a few T-6 pilots, and the common practice amongst them was that, in case of a fuel interruption, a pilot should select a "reserve" position for those airplanes that were equipped with the reserve position.










NTSB Identification: WPR16FA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in Mesa, AZ
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN AT 6, registration: N3198G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 17, 2016, about 1842 mountain standard time, a North American AT-6, N3198G, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after departure from Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona. The pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Wings of Flight Foundation, and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 air tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from FFZ at 1841 mountain standard time.

Multiple witnesses reported that shortly after takeoff they heard "popping" sounds accompanied with a loud "bang" and it appeared that the engine was not producing enough power. As the airplane exited the airport boundary, above an airport perimeter road, it made an 180-degree turn. Immediately thereafter, the airplane impacted the ground and a postimpact fire ensued. 

Schweizer 269C-1, N204HF, operated by Helicopter Flight Services: Fatal accident occurred September 08, 2017 at Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, Burlington County, New Jersey

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sikorsky; Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Herlihy Helicopters Inc
Helicopter Flight Services
http://registry.faa.gov/N204HF

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA317
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 08, 2017 in Medford, NJ
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C, registration: N204HF
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 8, 2017, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, N204HF, operated by Helicopter Flight Services, was substantially damaged during collision with terrain while performing a forced landing to Runway 01 at Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, New Jersey. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the chief flight instructor for the operator, the purpose of the flight was to provide an orientation/pleasure flight to the passenger who was scheduled to perform in a concert on the airport later that evening.

Several minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported over the airport UNICOM frequency that he was unable to control engine rpm with throttle inputs. He reported he could "roll" the twist-grip, but that there was no corresponding change in engine rpm when he did so.

The company flight instructor and another certificated helicopter flight instructor were monitoring the frequency and engaged the pilot in conversation about potential courses of action to affect the subsequent landing. Options discussed included a shallow approach to a run-on landing, or a power-off, autorotational descent to landing. The pilot elected to stop the engine and perform an autorotation, which was a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past. Prior to entering the autorotation, the pilot was advised to initiate the maneuver over the runway.

The company flight instructor reported that the helicopter entered the autorotation about 950 ft above ground level, and that the helicopter was quiet during its descent "because the engine was off." During the descent, the rotor rpm decayed to the point where the instructor could see the individual rotor blades. The helicopter descended from view prior to reaching the runway threshold and the sounds of impact were heard. Both instructors reported that a high-pitched "whine" could be heard from the helicopter during the latter portion of the descent.

A video forwarded by local police showed the helicopter south of the runway as it entered what appeared to be a descent profile consistent with an autorotation. Toward the end of the video, the descent profile became more vertical and the rate of descent increased before the helicopter descended out of view. No sound could be heard from the helicopter.

The pilot held commercial and instructor pilot certificates, each with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued April 12, 2017.

Excerpts of the pilot's logbook revealed he had logged 480.9 total hours of flight experience. It was estimated that he had accrued over 300 total hours of flight experience in the accident helicopter make and model. The last entry logged was for 1.2 hours in the accident helicopter on the day of the accident.

The company training records indicated the pilot had received the training required by the operator for employment as a flight instructor, and his last airman competency check was completed satisfactorily on April 19, 2017 in the accident helicopter.

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000 and had accrued approximately 7,900 total aircraft hours. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed August 17, 2017 at 7,884 total aircraft hours.

At 1254, the weather recorded at South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), 2 miles west of N14, included clear skies and wind from 260° at 13 knots gusting to 18 knots. The temperature was 21°C, and the dew point was 9°C. The altimeter setting was 30.13 inches of mercury. Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Sierra for instrument meteorological conditions and mountain obscurations was in effect for the area surrounding the accident site at the time of the accident.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The initial ground scar was about 10 ft prior to the main wreckage, which was about 220 ft prior to the threshold of runway 01 and aligned with the runway.

The cockpit was significantly deformed by impact damage, and the tailboom was separated at the fuselage. The engine and main transmission remained mounted in the airframe, and all main rotor blades were secured in their respective grips, which remained attached to the main rotor head and mast. The pitch-change link for the yellow rotor blade was fractured, with fracture signatures consistent with overstress. Each of the three blades was bent significantly at its respective blade root. The blades showed little to no damage along their respective spans toward the blade tips, which was consistent with low rotor rpm at ground contact.

Flight control continuity was established from the individual flight controls, through breaks, to the main rotor head and tail rotor. Drivetrain continuity was also established to the main and tail rotors.

The engine was rotated by hand at the cooling fan, and continuity was confirmed from the powertrain through the valvetrain, to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders using the thumb method. The magnetos were removed, actuated with a drill, and spark was produced at all terminal leads. Borescope examination of each cylinder revealed signatures consistent with normal wear, with no anomalies noted.

The carburetor was separated from the engine, displayed impact damage, and was found near the initial ground scar. The throttle and mixture arms were actuated by hand and moved smoothly through their respective ranges. The filter screen was removed, and was absent of debris. The carburetor contained fuel which appeared absent of water and debris.

The collective control and jackshaft assembly as well as the associated throttle cable, push-pull tube, and bellcrank assemblies were retained for further examination at the NTSB Materials Laboratory.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov

Medford Township Police Chief Richard Meder, center, speaks to media. At right is Lumberton Township Police Chief Tony DiLoreto. Burlington Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina is at left.


Burlington Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina is interviewed.